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Can An Angry Flight Attendant “Make It Difficult for You In Customs?”

Heathrow, London, UK - January 28, 2016: American Airlines Boeing 767-323 (N399AN) departing Heathrow Airport, UK, bound for Chicago O'Hare International, USA in a clear blue sky. (Photo: iStock)

Passengers arriving in the U.S. on an American Airlines flight from Mexico recorded their flight attendant threatening, “Darling, I can make it very difficult for you in customs.” The exchange reportedly followed a tense, racism-tinged conflict on the aircraft after the cameraperson’s elderly mother took ill on the flight, causing the crew member to become irritated.

American Airlines is doing damage control after a group of family members recorded their flight attendant threatening to make their immigration process difficult in retaliation for a testy exchange on the plane. The ugly incident took place following a flight from Mexico to the U.S.

As the short video clip posted to social media begins, the person taking the footage can be heard confronting the flight attendant about her behavior during the flight. The airline employee at first attempts to ignore the provocation, but then loses her temper and responds in a completely unprofessional fashion.

“You were very rude to us,” the passenger armed with a cellphone camera begins before other family members chime in to cajole the uniformed cabin crew member.

“Darling, I can make it very difficult for you in customs,” the crew member retorts with a smirk before the short clip ends.

To make matters worse, the family involved in the exchange says that the airline worker attempted to make good on her threat, by later urging customs officials to treat the group with suspicion. The family says the crew member’s actions on the flight were at least as disturbing as her attempted abuse of power on the ground. The large group of relatives (all of whom are of Asian descent), say that their request for some assistance related to their elderly mom’s health issue was met with an unexpected racist response.

“We tried to explain that my mother felt ill from the flight and tried to properly dispose of her throw-up and Carol’s response was ‘Oh please, I’ve been dealing with you people for 30-years,’” family member @LeleMarieC wrote in a later Twitter post. “My family did not expect that response, as we had nothing to do with her career choice and her hate for her job for that matter. As soon as she said that out of line comment I pulled my phone out to record. My family said we didn’t want to argue we just wanted her to understand the interaction and how she was incredibly rude. She proceeded to insult and threaten us which is what is captured on film.”

American Airlines officials appear to be taking the matter seriously and have promised to investigate the matter. The airline immediately issued a statement vowing that “Discrimination has no place at American.”

“In our culture, every interaction with a customer or team member should be grounded in respect,” the airline wrote in a near-instant response on social media. “Please DM your travel and contact info.”

It should be noted that following a flight attendant around the airport with a video camera (for whatever reason) is something akin to following your waitress home because she forgot to bring a side of ranch dressing. On the other hand, the flight attendant’s wildly inappropriate threat was completely inexcusable – no matter what provocation she had endured.

FlyerTalk members have their own strategies for the all too common problem of dealing with a grumpy flight attendant. In nearly every instance, the world’s largest expert travel community advises to simply avoid interacting with the testy cabin crew member. In situations in which passengers have confronted ill-tempered flight attendants, the end result is almost always that everyone involved loses.

Were these family members innocent victims of an unhinged airline employee or did they contribute to creating an unnecessarily tense situation? What is the best way to handle a rude cabin crew member? Is it best to simply avoid engaging with the surly airline employee or is ignoring rude, racist or unprofessional behavior only helping to propagate the problem? Flyertalkers are having a lot of fun trying to agree on all the right answers right now in the TravelBuzz forum.


[Featured Image: American Airlines]

Comments are Closed.
drphun August 2, 2019

Why doesn't "you people" mean "people who have gotten sick"?

Pmun July 29, 2019

I'm not white and "‘Oh please, I’ve been dealing with you people for 30-years,’" doesn't sound racist to me... I mean it COULD be interpreted that way but like we don't know the full story. Maybe the passenger is a bit overly sensitive.

White Eagle July 27, 2019

Hi bostontraveler of July 22, I really relate to your United BUE-EWR flight. UNITED is just that way...total incompetency everywhere...I will never fly UA again!!! (I HOPE!!)

boeingguy1 July 26, 2019

"going for great" ... AA is such a joke.

seigex July 26, 2019

"To make matters worse, the family involved in the exchange says that the airline worker attempted to make good on her threat, by later urging customs officials to treat the group with suspicion." Where's the evidence of this? And everything from the family is he-said she-said.. "I've been dealing with you people for 30 years" was probably "I know how to handle this, I've been dealing with passengers for 30 years". The phrase "racist flight attendant" from the original headline (still in the URL to the post) and the call of "racially tinged" has no actual supporting evidence. When people are mad, they will bend what people say to make the person look worse and them more of a victim. This is a poorly written article.